Scott Otte – Batavia Stad Fashion Outlet

Scott Otte – Batavia Stad Fashion Outlet

Scott Otte is Marketing Director at Batavia Stad Fashion Outlet, which is part of VIA Outlets with 11 centres in Europe. Scott explains that the thing that makes Batavia Stad Fashion Outlet different from other outlets, is their centric approach: “We aren’t as top-down as you may see in other retail organisations. Each centre has their own dedicated marketing department. I mostly work with marketing and tourism, which also falls under my team.”

Main ingredients for growth

Batavia Stad Fashion Outlet’s main KPI for growth is visitors. Scott explains: “The more visitors we get, the better the result. We are one of the biggest attractions in the Netherlands, with around 3 million visitors per year. Thereafter, we look at turnover. We have an average spend per visitor per visit, and when we can increase that, results will come twice as fast. Visitors spend around 4,5 hours inside, so when we can rise that number, it will also lead to a positive effect. Next to that, we need a qualitative and high occupancy rate of our centre. Nobody wants to walk around in an empty shopping mall with no stores.” Scott goes on to explain that there are three types of outlets: “The first is mass brands, which provide good deals and an extensive offer. Next is luxury, how many luxury brands are present? We are in the middle, and have opted for a different positioning. We focus on premium, and premium shopping. We mix the obvious international brands, with cool and interesting brands from the local area. And as we focus on excellent service, our customer experience is very good.”

Scott’s main ingredient for growth is spreading visitors across the week: “Before corona, we noticed a peek in visitors from Thursday afternoon, to Sunday. The beginning of the week was a lot quieter. Now, we have managed to spread those visitors more, and there are still more opportunities there, as we can welcome even more visitors. Second, we are looking into approaching new visitors. For instance, we have profited immensely from people who were spending their summer holidays around the Veluwe and in Friesland. There is a lot of potential there.”

“We measure a lot, and have a ton of valuable data. Our challenge is not whether we know enough, but applying that what we know.”

Role of creative

According to Scott, creative revolves around the creative interpretation of your message: “What will you be sharing, and how? But it can be more factual as well, how do you realise, in our case, more visitors? Where do opportunities lie? Who are we, and what makes us different? It is also about customer experience, which is the most important pillar for us. Online shopping is convenient, but you miss out on the experience. In the city, people can feel unsafe when there are lots of cars and main roads, and are therefore less likely to go to those places. Batavia Stad Fashion Outlet is the perfect solution. Parking is easy and affordable. It is safe, with just pedestrians, and no cars. We have an immense appeal, excellent service, and people really feel like they are being treated. It is why people like to come back.”

“When it comes to creatives, we also look at which message you need to bring across, and how to do so”, Scott continues. “Where before, we were more focused on promising something, the ultimate shopping destination. Almost a Disney-like promise. Now, our messaging has changed to ‘beter ga je naar Bataviastad’ (you are better off going to Bataviastad), which is a broader message. Whether you are young, or a bit older. Through research we learned that a no-nonsense approach, and factually stating where your advantages lie, is more than enough; extensive offer, parking, open 7 days a week. There are tons of reasons why you are better off going to Bataviastad.”

Success of creatives

When it comes to the success of creatives, Scott states that they should always be distinctive. “I think it is easier to create something that stands out. But if it doesn’t fit who you are or what you represent, and it is not recognisable for your most important target group, it’s not going to work. The right relevant message that is distinctive and fits your brand, that is the holy grail. And that is more difficult than you think. Once you have that message, it is important to have the right deployment of media. Make sure you can push it at the right moment through the right channel. The most important thing is that the creative is understood, and remembered. A lot of creatives are great, but it remains difficult to connect it to a specific brand. Lastly, it needs to be simple. Your target group needs to understand it in an instant. Some things are just too complicated.”

Scott shares that their inspiration comes from looking at the market. Scott: “Once a month, we organise a creative session. We look at what stood out, what we like. Next to that, we look at what is happening in fashion and lifestyle, and how we can tie that into our brand. A risk we often come across is that some things are beautiful, but it needs to fit our brand and be relevant. That is a challenge. We also share best practices with other centres, and we measure our customer experience. From mystery shopping to exit surveys, quantitative research. We use those results as well, and conduct a brand check by looking at our funnel, from awareness to loyalty.”

Creative process

Scott shares his thoughts on brand building versus sales activation: “They are entirely different ways of working. In that sense, we are a retailer. We see opportunities, measure the number of people coming in daily, what time they enter, and what time they leave. Because of this, we can tie in certain moments in the calendar. When it comes to brand, it is a longer process. Ensuring brand fit, and remaining on the same path.” When it comes to research, Scott shares that in Batavia Stad Fashion Outlet’s case, it is important to keep that cutting edge: “In my experience, it can be a distraction, and lead you to settle somewhere halfway. I think it is better to stick to what you have, as those sharp edges may fade. When you are a financial institution, you may want those edges polished, but I think it is important we keep them.”

Batavia Stad Fashion Outlet has several target groups, and continues to improve in identifying the media consumption of those target groups. Scott: “When we know which media is relevant for which target group, we try to use that. From time to time, we push one message everywhere, but we are more and more leaning towards targeting that message. We have a mix of target groups, based on socio-demographics, but also on lifestyle, interests, and purchase behaviour. We know and measure a lot, and have a ton of valuable data. Our challenge is not whether we know enough, but applying that what we know.”

Looking ahead

Scott shares his thoughts on future trends: “Things will be moving faster. From briefing to the campaign will be a faster process. This also means that you need to be smarter. I believe that the big productions with expensive executions will be used less, and perhaps exclusive to a few big brands. Look at Gucci for instance, they are frontrunners in that area and have really changed their way of working. They are more varied, faster in development, and no longer dependant on one big message that is expensive to produce. You can accomplish a lot by being relevant, distinctive, and having a strong brand linkage. You need to be consistent in your approach, and find a creative way to implement that. You don’t always need a big budget, as long as you are creative and use what you have in a smart way.”